Q: I injured my back at work, and missed 5 days. Is my boss at fault for not reading my doctors orders?
In retail,was switched to a new position due to downsizing, I had done this position 15 yrs. ago, but injured my back stocking heavy liquids. I couldn't stand for 5 days, then saw my doctor. I was given a note that stated I was to be on lite duty for 30 days or if not followed, would be eligible for disability benefits. When I returned to work, no one would accept or take or read my note. I was told we don't accept notes. Supposed to report it to Sedgewick. I didn't know. I had never been injured at work. For 4 days I told coworkers that I hurt my back anď was not supposed to lift heavy items and cases of wine. The heavy items were still sent out for me to stock anyway. My back was painful again. Doctors note would not excuse my 5 absences and you are escourted out and fired for 5 unexcused absences. I could'nt take more pain nor could I get fired from a 15 yr. Job. Was told quitting is better than getting fired, so I quit. Pretty much forced out.
A: An employer is allowed to appoint a third party to administer leaves and return to work efforts. Sedgewick is just such a company. If you failed to turn the return to work note into Sedgewick when requested, the problem may be yours. If you did turn in the return to work documents from your doctor, and the employer thereafter made you work in violation of your doctor's restrictions, then you either could have lawfully refused to violate your doctor's restrictions, or if you worked and got hurt because you were working against your medical restrictions, you would have had a much larger claim for the injury you incurred as a result of the employer's violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
However by quitting, you have substantially damaged any legal claim you had. Nonetheless, it would be wise for you to locate and consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible to explore your facts and determine your options. I would suggest you look either on this site, or go to www.cela.org, the home page for the California Employment Lawyers Association, an organization whose members are dedicated to the representation of employees against their employers.
Most employment attorneys who practice this area of law offer a free or low cost consultation in the beginning and then, if the matter has merit and value, will usually agree to work on a contingency basis, meaning you can hire an attorney without paying any money until the matter results in a positive outcome for you. Many advance all the costs of the litigation as well. Do not let fear of fees and costs keep you from finding a good attorney.
Good luck to you.
A: You should do 2 things: (1) Get a worker's compensation lawyer asap; and (2) ask your worker's comp lawyer to refer you to a lawyer who handles discrimination in employment cases who can represent you in a separate legal action for your wrongful termination from your employment due to your disability. You can allege that you were constructively discharged by your manager's conduct of ignoring your medical restrictions when you returned to work on a limited duty status. Whatever you do, get going right away. You will want an attorney who can demand that your ex-employer retain all documents and records they have on you. An experienced employment lawyer who handles plaintiff's cases will know exactly what to do.
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